REVIEWS: 2009 Audi TTS Roadster

March 18, 2009
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The logical side of my brain is telling me that not only is $57,125 a good chunk of change, it's also enough to get me into the more dynamic Porsche Boxster S. And while that would normally be enough to move me toward the Porsche, I can't help but think I'd still consider the TTS.
Design, I think, has a lot to do with it. I fell head over heels when I first saw the original TT concepts back in 1995 - they were slick, seemingly well crafted, and looked unlike anything else in Audi's lineup. While the current car is less unique than its forebears, it's still plenty sporty - something only amplified by the TTS model's special front and rear valences. Design also reigns inside, where the baseball-glove seats were both supportive and comfortable, and I where I noticed many forms borrowed from its big brother, the R8. I loved the sound of the Bose audio system, but I can't believe Audi gives us a six-disc CD changer but no iPod interface.
Perhaps I was most surprised at how usable this car proved to be. As can be expected, mixing Quattro with winter tires helped in snow. I don't expect trunks on roadsters to be huge (indeed, my backpack could be described as "fitted luggage"), but the TTS still offered a fair amount of cargo room and nifty pouches to store my odds and ends. One neat feature: the cubby between the seats also doubles as a trunk pass-through for longer items. I don't anticipate the need to haul skis or lumber in a TT anytime soon, but it's nice to know there's a practical side to a car that's supposed to be anything but.
It's fast (once the turbo spools up), semi-usable, and damn good-looking. Shame it drives more like a Golf R32 than a Boxster. Maybe I'll take that Porsche after all...
Evan McCausland, Web Producer
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I'll be the first to admit that anyone who hopes the Audi TTS will provide the same sort of hard-edged, visceral driving experience as the Porsche Boxster is bound to be disappointed by this, the sportiest and fastest TT ever conceived. But I'd also venture that probably half or more of Boxsters are sold to people who are buying them for the prestige of the Porsche badge and for the fact that the Boxster is cute and agile and a roadster. Sorry, but that's the truth. I've known people who've purchased Boxsters for precisely those reasons. These are the sort of people for whom the TTS is also a logical choice. They want the prestige badge, they want the looks, they want the luxury, they want those gorgeous seats upholstered in baseball-mitt-style leather, replete with the thick exposed stitching.
If you can get past the fact that the TTS is not a Boxster, there's a lot to like here, starting with the fact that this sucker is FAST. Very fast, indeed. And the 265-hp version of Audi's ubiquitous 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine mates beautifully with the DSG transmission: all you get is seamless, nonstop, bountiful power and neck-snapping acceleration. What's more, the little exhaust blip when you shift manually using the paddle shifters is altogether enchanting.
You'd still prefer a Boxster? Good for you. But don't feel sorry for, or act condescendingly toward, any fortunate person whom you see driving around in a TTS. They knew exactly what they were buying and why they were buying it, and more power to them, literally and figuratively.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
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At first I thought I'd have to revoke Evan's Car Guy credentials for even suggesting the TTS is in the same league as the new Boxster S. I'd much rather have a PDK transmission than DSG, although both are excellent choices for folks who dislike clutch pedals or want a more comfortable daily driver. And the boxer-six sounds damn near perfect while the 2.0T just sounds good to me. But the TTS comes with Audi's signature Quattro system, and I've become a huge fan of AWD this winter. So for owners in the Snowbelt, the TTS could be seen as a more logical choice.
For those living in warmer climes, I can't justify a TTS. It's certainly the best Audi TT I've ever driven, but the price and front-wheel-drive roots of this car are huge turnoffs for me. Everything about this TTS is very good, but even a base Boxster is sublime and telepathic. It's nearly impossible to beat a mid-engine roadster, and that task is no easier when your platform is shared with a vehicle as pedestrian as a VW Rabbit.
As Evan points out, the looks alone will probably sell most Audi TTs. It remains to be seen if slightly different looks and a boost in power will be enough to sell the TTS.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor
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The Audi TTS's price and mission put it into the same category as the Porsche Boxster, but I can't really think about the Audi in Boxster terms. The Boxster is always at the top of my list when people ask, "So what's your favorite car?" Nothing in the Audi TT family (except perhaps the Volkswagen GTI) comes to mind.
Not that the TTS is a throwaway car, by any means. As Phil suggested, this thing is awesome in the snow. I was actually shocked at how quick, grippy, and surefooted this car was on slick, snowy road surfaces: thank you, Quattro all-wheel drive and Dunlop winter tires. The DSG dual-clutch transmission's shifts are quick and hard, but it seems reluctant to downshift when coasting, making the engine sound boggy. (I assume that the computer knows what it's doing, but I wouldn't lug the engine that much if I were driving a manual.) Also, these electronic dampers are more defined than any others I can think of - there's a clear, noticeable difference in ride quality when you activate the sport suspension. Unfortunately, the roads were too slick for me to thoroughly test how much they affect handling.
Of course, the interior is very impressive (as is the normal TT). The thick leather stitching in the seats is gorgeous, the shifter looks and feels great, and the HVAC vents and flat-bottom steering wheel simply reek of quality.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
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Have you noticed that everyone here who drove the new TTS mentioned the baseball mitt leather seats? Yes, they ARE that cool, especially when rendered in the same color as the well-oiled, tan baseball glove of my youth.
There are also a lot of comments relating to the viability of the TTS as a winter car, not surprising considering that the entire time it was with us we were being besieged by winter storms. We got a good ten inches of snow the night I brought it home and it looked just like an igloo sitting in my driveway. It will have to be enough to say that, with Audi's famed Quattro system and the Dunlop winter tires, the TTS had no problem mushing down the wintry road. Spring will come some day and we'll get it back for a proper thrashing.
Jean Jennings, President & Editor-in-Chief
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2009 Audi TTS Roadster
Base Price (with destination): $48,325
Price as tested: $57,125
Options:
Prestige Model - $6000
- Audi Navigation Plus
- Six-Disc CD Changer
- Audi Parking System
- Bose Premium Sound System
- Power Adjustable, Heated Seats
- Bluetooth Phone Preparation
- Rain Sensing Windshield Wipers
- Storage Package
- Power Folding Top
Baseball Optic Fine Nappa Leather Seats - $2000
19-inch Aluminum Wheels - $800
Fuel Economy: 21 / 29 / 24 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Engine:
Size: 2.0L Turbocharged 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 265 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
Transmission: 6-Speed Dual-Clutch Automatic
Weight: 3373 lb
Wheel/Tire Info:
- 19" Aluminum Wheels
- 255/35R19 Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D

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